A smartphone and the Profoto A10; the perfect ingredients for stylish food photography

Successful Tokyo-based food photographer Sakiko Ohno was once again challenged by Profoto to create outstanding images with her iPhone 11 Pro. This time we wanted her to try out the new Profoto A10 and the AirX technology. Could she create the wow effect using only an iPhone and a flash? Let's find out.
profoto a10 hyemi cho

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This article appeared on the Profoto.com website.

Sakiko Ohno is a successful food photographer living and working in Tokyo, creating images for some of the world’s most celebrated brands, Coca-Cola Japan, Godiva Japan, Suntory Liquors and Asahi beverages among them.

Perhaps they are drawn to her natural, almost effortless style; capturing food in a way that’s both engaging, yet accessible.

Profoto challenged Sakiko to create her signature images once again using her iPhone 11 Pro, this time in combination with the Profoto A10 featuring Profoto’s innovative AirX technology.

A frozen moment

profoto a10 hyemi cho

Profoto’s AirX technology means that for the first time, flash and smartphone can synchronize successfully, so Sakiko decided to stress test that particular innovation by freezing motion in her first image – in this instance capturing the lemon drops as they fall from the squeezed fruit.

Sakiko selected a black background to create contrast with the lemon drops, and the glass filled with purple flower ice cubes. It also helped to enhance other small but important details in the image; the reflection of the flowers and the shadow that formed from the intricate pattern on the silver tray.

The focus of the shot, however, is the lemon juice spraying from the fruit – frozen in time. Sakiko was pleased that she could sync the Profoto A10 with the iPhone on such a short shutter speed, “It gave me the freedom to control the ambient light and to freeze motion.”

profoto a10 hyemi cho

An antique vibe

One of Sakiko’s favorite movies is the modern French classic; Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain. She particularly liked the styling of the film, with its contemporary take on antique themes – and that influenced her second shot.

Hard light is challenging to create without flash, and Sakiko needed hard light to reflect light in interesting ways, especially since she’d selected an ornately patterned glass to help build the antique vibe of the shoot. So, by placing the Profoto A10, with a Yellow Clic Gel stacked below a Profoto Clic Dome, beneath the glass table firing upwards, she was able to create the ‘hard light’ effect. Additionally, the dark green patterned paper helped to create a contrast between that, and the orange liquid illuminated in the glass.

Again, Sakiko was delighted with the result, “It is wonderful that one can make use of the full power of the A10 flash when shooting with iPhone, this means you avoid the images becoming ‘noisy’ when shooting at a high ISO.”

profoto a10 hyemi cho

profoto a10 hyemi cho

profoto a10 hyemi cho

At the end of the day, we’re storytellers

They say photography is ‘painting with light.’ Well, in Sakiko’s mind, it’s undoubtedly a medium through which you can tell a story; that was her aim with the third and final image.

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“I wanted to create the feeling that the cake creator is putting the finishing touches to the cake on a dark autumn evening.”

However, the studio in which she was shooting was bright and filled with daylight, which fought against the comfortable and cozy atmosphere Sakiko was keen to create. So, to add drama and the feeling of evening light, she chose red as the overall color theme for the cake, the fruit and the apron, and added the Profoto Clic Grid to the A10.

The Profoto Clic Grid allowed her to focus the light on a particular area with a reasonably immediate fall-off to darkness elsewhere on the image; creating the cozy feeling she was craving. “This is what I love about working with flash. Lighting a part of the scene can create a different story in the viewer’s mind.”

profoto a10 hyemi cho

Smartphone photography at the next level

For Sakiko, this was a fascinating exercise, after all, food is something that anyone who owns a smartphone will have photographed, especially when presented with a dish at a high-end restaurant – or a beautifully crafted cocktail.

So, this was an opportunity to demonstrate just how professional the results can be now smartphone and flash come together via Profoto AirX technology.

Creative team:
Photographer: Sakiko Ohno
Food stylist: Yukiko Katsumata
BTS Photographer: Hyemi Cho


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